Newport: Deep Work

Are you spending hours upon hours working on your projects, yet feeling little sense of progress? One solution may be to focus on improving the quality of your concentration rather than increasing the quantity of time spent. Tim Herrera (2019) discussed how to do just that in his interview with Cal Newport, author of Deep Work and the forthcoming Digital Minimalism. Newport argued that, in order to accomplish deep work (“doing something hard with your mind”), you must have “zero distractions.” The four rules for engaging in deep work are:

  • Work deeply: Actively incorporate deep work sessions into your schedule.
  • Embrace boredom: Train your brain to accept periods of work without external novelty and stimulation.
  • Quit social media: Be intentional and selective about social media use.
  • Drain the shallows: Do not allow mundane and administrative tasks to take over your schedule.

If you are struggling to concentrate on your work — especially if you find yourself constantly distracted or reaching for distractions — you may benefit from reading Newport’s books. As Newport said, “Concentration is like a super power in most knowledge work pursuits. If you take the time to cultivate this power, you’ll never look back.”


Herrera, T. (2019, January 13). How to actually, truly focus on what you are doing. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Newport, C. (2019). Digital minimalism: Choosing a focused life in a noisy world. New York, NY: Portfolio/Penguin.

Newport, C. (2016). Deep work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.